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EuGH erklärt deutsches Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger für unwirksam!   Am 12. September 2019 - 11:01 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Am 1. August 2013 ist in Deutschland das Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger in Kraft getreten. Heute, nach etwas mehr als sechs Jahren, hat es der Europäische Gerichtshof (EuGH) für nicht anwendbar erklärt – und zwar rückwirkend. Grund ist ein Fehler im Gesetzgebungsverfahren, der allen bekannt war. Weiter

Kampagne der VG Media verliert Unterstützer   Am 8. September 2019 - 20:13 Uhr von Tom Hirche

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Die "Informations- und Aufklärungsoffensive" der Verwertungsgesellschaft (VG) Media ist vergangene Woche gestartet. Doch mehrere der sog. "Initiatoren" scheinen überrascht von den bisher getätigten Aussagen zu sein. Sie haben sich von der Kampagne distanziert und ihren Rückzug erklärt. Weiter

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VG Media läutet "Informations- und Aufklärungsoffensive" gegen Digitalkonzerne ein   Am 3. September 2019 - 11:45 Uhr von Tom Hirche

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Am vergangenen Sonntag hat die Verwertungsgesellschaft (VG) Media den internen Startschuss für eine großangelegte Kampagne in Presse, Radio und TV gegeben. Im eigenen Interesse will man Stimmung machen gegen die großen Digitalkonzerne Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple und Microsoft, um damit politische Einflussnahme auszuüben. Weiter

How Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive threatens Let's Play and Walkthrough Culture   Am 29. August 2019 - 17:28 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Article 17 of the new EU Copyright Directive tightens the liability of platform providers such as Youtube. Creative content from legal grey areas might disappear from the net. This especially applies to gaming videos such as Let's Plays or Walkthroughs.

In recent years, the Let's Play and Walkthrough Video genre has developed into a very special fan culture of the gaming scene. The creators reach and entertain not only a niche audience with their commented game and explanatory videos but millions of viewers by now. Their channels and broadcasts on major platforms for user-generated content, such as Youtube, are literally popular and can be regarded as contemporary pop culture.

This is all the more astonishing since Let's Play and Walkthrough Videos focus on content that creators usually don't have permission to distribute. Rather, they can in most cases rely on the fact that their videos are not only accepted by many rights holders, the game publishers, but also welcomed as advertising. But the new EU Copyright Directive could soon put an abrupt end to this practice that has worked so far.

Changes due to the Copyright Directive

Article 17 (formerly Article 13) of the Directive requires member states to hold platform providers directly liable for copyright infringements committed by their users. So far, operators such as Youtube and others have only been obliged to block or delete content when rights owners report it as illegal (also known as "notice-and-take-down").

The new, direct (primary) liability immensely increases the liability risk for platforms: from now on they are directly liable as soon as an illegal content is uploaded. From that moment on, rights holders can claim damages or injunctive relief. It is even possible that the platform operators may make themselves liable to criminal prosecution. Accordingly, they must check the contents before publication and - if identified as illegal - block them.

Licensing as a "solution ", upload filter as a subsequent problem

Since manual examination and checking of all user uploads will not be possible, especially with large platforms, they will have to use technical systems for this purpose. Inevitably, the infamous and problematic upload filters – algorithms designed to detect illegal uploads – will be used across the board.

Since this is allegedly not desired, the directive gives priority to licenses. It requires the platforms to make every effort to obtain the necessary rights for all user uploads that are subject to copyright. It should be noted that these rights must have been obtained before the publication takes place, otherwise warnings, lawsuits and damages may emerge from the very first moment.

However, a comprehensive, preventive rights clearing is impossible. On the one hand, it would require the platform provider to foresee what content its users could upload. Given the amount of uploads, this is an impossibility. On the other hand, many rights can practically not be licensed at all. This applies, among other things, to content for which there are no central institutions where all necessary rights can be cleared (such as collecting societies). This is not only the case for game content, but also for texts, films and photos.

In order to license all conceivable rights to such content, the platform provider would have to conclude individual contracts with thousands, perhaps millions of authors and rights holders. And even if this effort could be made, there would be countless cases where the rights could not be obtained. For example, because it is not clear who owns the rights; or because the rights holders no longer exist, which is often the case in the games industry; or because the rights holders cannot be found and so on. In other words, the comprehensive licensing of user content on platforms is a myth.

The result is this: The controversial upload filters are unavoidable. What they cannot recognize as licensed or at least clearly as legitimate, they will block or delete.

Let's Play: Illegal but tolerated content

As mentioned at the beginning, the publication of Let's Play and Walkthrough Videos by platform users usually violates the copyright of the game publisher. This will not change after the directive has been implemented. The EU legislator has failed to provide for a new exception that would legalise such user content.

But so far this has not been a big problem for the scene. Game publishers usually do not take action against the publication. And since under current law the platforms only have to react when the rights holder complains, the content generally remains online and is tolerated. This benefits everyone, including and especially publishers. They understand that such videos are free advertising and that an active fan culture can boost demand enormously. Deletion waves like the one in 2013 are rare.

However, game videos still get blocked or deleted from time to time. This shows that tacit acquiescence is not legally binding. Many publishers have publicly announced this tolerance in one form or another (see, for example, the information on the behaviour of individual publishers in a fandom wiki).

Legally relevant and binding "declarations of acquiescence", such as Electronic Arts, or references in the terms of use are rare exceptions. Tacit acquiescence is the general case. Usually, companies declare their intention not to take any action against such content with non-binding statements in forums, on Twitter, Facebook or other public sources. But statements like these have no legal effect and can be withdrawn at any time. In other words: they are not a license, i.e. no legally binding permission to use, neither for the creators of game videos nor for the platform providers.

Upload filters and Let's Play Videos

Hence, neither users nor platform providers normally have licenses to use games content in Let's Play or Walkthrough Videos. In view of the abundance of publishers and individual rights and the fact that there are no collecting societies for such rights, this will never be the case on a large scale.

Due to the considerable increase in liability resulting from Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive, platform providers will have no choice but to block such content. Only then can they protect themselves against claims for damages that arise at the time of publication. The non-binding declarations of acquiescence and the previous practice of acquiescence by publishers do not protect them.

Accordingly, the upload filters will not allow such content to pass. Their automated sample comparisons and verification algorithms check the legal status of user uploads to see whether they are legal or illegal. They cannot judge whether content is illegal but tolerated. As a result, huge amounts of Let's Play and Walkthrough content could be blocked or deleted, many creators could close their channels preventively. This would mean that this special, globally popular fan culture would almost disappear.

Possible solution

Although national legislators cannot completely avoid this horror scenario, they can ease it when transposing the Directive into their national laws. They could promote centralised licensing solutions and flat-rate licences. It could also be envisaged that platform providers would only have to clarify rights if this is practically possible and reasonable.

Only when transposed into national law it will be made clear what exactly is meant by "all efforts" which, according to Article 17, must be made by the platforms to obtain all necessary rights rights. If legislators define these requirements very extensively, this will lead to an extension of filtering. If, on the other hand, they formulate them with attention and as precisely as possible, this reduces the platforms' pressure to filter.


Article 17 can cause a great deal of user content to disappear from the Internet, which today is illegal but enriches the Internet with the tolerance of the rights holders. Game videos are used here as an example to describe how universally damaging the transposition of article 17 can become: The rights holders could lose the advertising effect of the popular fan culture, the creators would not no longer be able to publish their content, the users could no longer watch it.

- This article was first published in German at iRights. Translation Tom Hirche. - 

Wie Artikel 17 der EU-Urheberrechtsrichtlinie die Let's Play- und Walkthrough-Kultur bedroht   Am 29. August 2019 - 11:53 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Artikel 17 der neuen EU-Urheberrechtsrichtlinie verschärft die Haftung von Plattformanbietern wie Youtube. Viele kreative Inhalte aus rechtlichen Grauzonen drohen dadurch aus dem Netz zu verschwinden. Das betrifft auch und vor allem Gaming-Videos wie Let’s Plays oder Walkthroughs. Weiter

European Copyright Roundtable to Ensure Uniform Implementation of Directives   Am 26. Juni 2019 - 13:23 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The new EU Copyright Directive entered into force on 6 June 2019. From that date on, Member States will have exactly two years to transpose all requirements into their national law. A roundtable will help to curb legislative solo attempts. Weiter

Analyse der Suchergebnisse: journalistische Inhalte für Trefferliste von Google kaum relevant   Am 26. Juni 2019 - 11:56 Uhr von Tom Hirche

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Ein US-Verlegerverband behauptete kürzlich, Google würde angeblich mit Nachrichten Milliardenumsätze einfahren. Eine umfangreiche Analyse des SEO-Anbieters Sistrix präsentiert nun ganz andere Zahlen. Demnach seien journalistische Inhalte für Google häufig irrelevant. Weiter

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European Copyright Roundtable für einheitliche Richtlinienumsetzung   Am 26. Juni 2019 - 11:02 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Die neue EU-Urheberrechtsrichtlinie ist am 6. Juni 2019 in Kraft getreten. Von diesem Tag an haben die Mitgliedstaaten genau zwei Jahre Zeit, alle Vorgaben in ihr nationales Recht umzusetzen. Ein Roundtable soll dabei helfen, gesetzgeberische Alleingänge einzudämmen. Weiter

US Publishers' Study: Google Allegedly Generates Billions in Revenue with News   Am 21. Juni 2019 - 1:42 Uhr von Tom Hirche

According to a study by the US publishers' association News Media Alliance, in 2018 alone Google generated revenues of 4.7 billion US-dollars from news content without paying for it. According to the publishers, this has to change in the future. Weiter

US-Verlegerstudie: Google macht angeblich milliardenschweren Umsatz mit News   Am 20. Juni 2019 - 18:37 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Laut einer Studie des US-Verlegerverbands News Media Alliance habe Google allein im Jahr 2018 einen Umsatz von 4,7 Milliarden US-Dollar mit Verlagsinhalten erwirtschaftet, ohne dafür zu zahlen. Das solle sich in Zukunft ändern. Weiter

Council lets copyright reform pass – The die is cast   Am 16. April 2019 - 18:10 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The controversial EU directive on copyright reform has been adopted. On April 15, 2019, the majority of EU member states voted in favour of the directive. Germany additionally submitted a protocol declaration. Weiter

Rat winkt Urheberrechtsreform durch – Die Würfel sind gefallen   Am 16. April 2019 - 11:22 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Die umstrittene EU-Richtlinie zur Reform des Urheberrechts ist beschlossen worden. Am 15. April 2019 stimmten die EU-Mitgliedsstaaten mehrheitlich dafür. Deutschland gab zusätzlich eine Protokollerklärung ab. Weiter

Ende der Lügenkampagne nicht in Sicht   Am 12. April 2019 - 12:17 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Das Europäische Parlament hat der neuen Richtlinie zum Urheberrecht zugestimmt und am kommenden Montag wird der Europäische Rat es ihm wohl gleichtun. Trotzdem setzt Mathias Döpfner, Vorstandschef des Axel-Springer-Verlags, seine Lügenkampagne unverändert fort. Weiter

Fateful Day: EU Parliament Approves Copyright Reform – No Amendments Made   Am 26. März 2019 - 23:06 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Today, the Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of the copyright reform – including the obligation for upload filters and an ancillary copyright for press publishers. Weiter

Schicksalstag: EU-Parlament stimmt Urheberrechtsreform ohne Änderung zu   Am 26. März 2019 - 16:37 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Heute haben die Mitglieder des Europäischen Parlaments für die Urheberrechtsreform gestimmt – inklusive der Pflicht zu Upload-Filtern und einem Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger. Weiter

CDU hält an Richtlinie fest und reagiert auf Protest mit Nebelkerze   Am 19. März 2019 - 16:14 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Es scheint, als wäre der Protest der vergangenen Wochen doch nicht unbemerkt an der CDU vorbeigezogen. Zu den richtigen Schlüssen ist man gleichwohl nicht gekommen. Denn anstatt sich für eine Überarbeitung der geplanten Urheberrechtsrichtlinie einzusetzen, versucht man die Gemüter mit einem deutschen Alleingang zu beruhigen. Ein leicht durchschaubares Manöver. Weiter

Reda: "You'll wish the mails had all come from bots."   Am 6. März 2019 - 20:11 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The way is clear for the final vote of the European Parliament on the copyright reform. On 27 February, a majority of its Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) voted in favour of the negotiated compromise. However, EU citizens' criticism of the plan is growing louder and louder - just before the European elections. Weiter

Reda: "Ihr werdet euch noch wünschen, die Mails wären alle von Bots gekommen."   Am 4. März 2019 - 18:43 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Der Weg für die finale Abstimmung des Europäischen Parlaments über die Urheberrechtsreform ist frei. Am 27. Februar hat dessen Rechtsausschuss (JURI) mehrheitlich für den ausgehandelten Kompromiss gestimmt. Die Kritik am Vorhaben seitens der EU-Bürgerinngen und EU-Bürger wird allerdings immer lauter – und das kurz vor der Europawahl. Weiter

Council of Ministers approves compromise on copyright reform   Am 24. Februar 2019 - 21:43 Uhr von Tom Hirche

On Wednesday, government representatives of the EU member states approved the compromise on the Copyright Directive in the Council of Ministers. The reform has thus taken another hurdle. But the big showdown is still to come. Weiter

Ministerrat hat Kompromiss zur Urheberrechtsreform zugestimmt   Am 24. Februar 2019 - 20:30 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Regierungsvertreter der EU-Mitgliedstaaten haben am vergangenen Mittwoch im Ministerrat dem Kompromiss zur Urheberrechtsrichtlinie zugestimmt. Damit hat die Reform eine weitere Hürde genommen. Der große Showdown steht aber noch bevor. Weiter

EU institutions agree on final text of Article 11   Am 14. Februar 2019 - 17:08 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Last night, the trilogue negotiations on the proposed EU copyright reform were concluded. One result of these negotiations is an ancillary copyright for press publishers which is very similar to the German regulation but will cause even greater damage. This can still be prevented! Weiter

EU-Institutionen einigen sich auf finalen Text von Artikel 11   Am 14. Februar 2019 - 15:31 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Gestern Nacht wurden die Trilog-Verhandlungen zur geplanten EU-Urheberrechtsreform abgeschlossen. Herausgekommen ist dabei unter anderem ein Leistungsschutzrecht für Presseverleger, das große Ähnlichkeit zur deutschen Regelung hat, aber noch größeren Schaden anrichten wird. Noch kann dies verhindert werden! Weiter

Yet another independent study bashes Article 11   Am 12. Februar 2019 - 21:58 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Today, the final report of the so-called Cairncross review was published. It thoroughly looks at how to sustain the production and distribution of high-quality journalism in the UK. In doing so, some interesting points regarding an ancillary copyright for press publishers are raised. Weiter

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Increasing number of rightholders reject EU copyright reform   Am 8. Februar 2019 - 19:02 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The Romanian Council Presidency still tries to reach a compromise with the Member States on the planned directive on copyright reform. Meanwhile, more and more influential rightholders are now denying their support, putting additional pressure on politicians. Weiter

Immer mehr Rechteinhaber lehnen EU-Urheberrechtsreform ab   Am 8. Februar 2019 - 18:05 Uhr von Tom Hirche

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Die rumänische Ratspräsidentschaft versucht weiterhin, sich mit den Mitgliedstaaten auf einen Kompromiss für die geplante Richtlinie zur Reform des Urheberrechts zu einigen. Währenddessen versagen immer mehr einflussreiche Rechteinhaber ihre Unterstützung und üben damit zusätzlichen Druck auf die Politik aus. Weiter

Broad coalition of 89 organisations calls for deletion of Article 11 and 13   Am 30. Januar 2019 - 15:49 Uhr von Tom Hirche

The trilogue negotiations on the upcoming copyright Directive are still stuck. EDRi has taken this opportunity to send out an open letter to the negotiators that not only we but also numerous international and Europe-based organisations have co-signed. Weiter

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Dispute between EU states brings negotiations to a halt   Am 23. Januar 2019 - 0:15 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Representatives of the Member States in the European Council have not yet managed to reach a compromise. The trilogue negotiations are therefore continuing to drag on indefinitely. That gives cause for hope. Weiter

Streit zwischen EU-Staaten bremst Verhandlungen aus   Am 22. Januar 2019 - 22:58 Uhr von Tom Hirche

Vertreter der Mitgliedstaaten im Europäischen Rat haben es bisher nicht geschafft, sich auf einen Kompromiss zu einigen. Die Trilog-Verhandlungen ziehen sich damit auf unbestimmte Zeit weiter in die Länge. Das gibt Grund zur Hoffnung. Weiter

Article 11: Negotiations did not bring any improvement so far   Am 18. Januar 2019 - 11:41 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Originally, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council wanted to finalise the text of the planned Copyright Directive by the end of 2018. However, this goal was clearly missed so that negotiations were resumed last week. Weiter

Artikel 11: Verhandlungen führen zu keiner Verbesserung   Am 18. Januar 2019 - 9:58 Uhr von Till Kreutzer

Eigentlich wollten die Europäische Kommission, das Europäische Parlament und der Europäische Rat den Text der geplanten Urheberrechtsrichtlinie noch 2018 finalisieren. Dieses Ziel wurde jedoch deutlich verfehlt, sodass die Verhandlungen vergangene Woche wieder aufgenommen wurden. Weiter

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